July 30, 2011


Here's a new doodle I made tonight while listening to:

1. This American Life, Episode #436: The Psychopath Test
2. The Moth, Bill Burr: A Dolls House
3. The Moth, Kimberly Reed: Life Flight
4. Radiolab: Sperm
5. Radiolab: 4 Track Mind (Which you should definitely follow this link and listen to if you're a musician--or any other curious type--it's MIND BLOWING!...Literally...and will only take 20 minutes of your time).

The doodle has nothing visually to do with any of these programs, but if you add up the lengths of each episode that total will at least give you a rough idea of how long it took me to complete.

Materials used: Bic: round stic--medium, and paper.

Der Schöckl

Yesterday morning I got up, had breakfast, buzzed my mouthpiece for a little while, and headed over a little early to my 8:10 German class...as usual. The previous night had been a late one for most and I expected the rest of the class to shuffle in a couple minutes late--bleary eyed and bed rumpled. I sat at my desk and watched the clock: 8:09...8:11...8:13...that's weird, not even the teacher is here yet...I wonder if class was cancelled and I just missed the announcement. I walked over to the window and looked down at the street hoping to see some people making their way to school. At about 8:15 my teacher Rebecca walked through the door with a cheery "Wie gehts" (how are you).

For the next few minutes it was just the two of us and she asked me, auf Deutsch of course (she only rarely speaks in English during our classes), if I had any plans for the weekend. I responded, as much auf Deutsch as I could of course, that I had wanted to go hiking, but the weather was bad, and I hadn't found anyone to go with. She sympathized a while and then asked where I'd wanted to go. "Ich weiss nicht," I said "Veleicht der Schöckl?"

Der Schöckl is a high plateau a few miles outside of Graz that I'd heard offered decent hiking and is easily accessible by bus. Rebecca responded that her daughter wanted to go back to the Schöckl as well and was equally upset that the threat of rain was spoiling any hope of fun. She said that if the weather cleared over the weekend, she and her family (who are all staying together at the Heim this summer) would make the trip and that I'd be welcome to come along. I thanked her for the invitation and settled back into my seat as finally around 8:30 a few more students began to trickle in.

Later that morning as I did the rest of my warm up/technical routine in one of the classrooms at the Elisabethschule, I watched as the clouds slowly began to dissipate, and by noon the sky was a glorious blue flecked with big billowy clouds...a perfect day for a hike. As I was on my way out of the cafeteria after lunch I ran into Rebecca again purely by chance. She approached me and excitedly said her husband was on his way to rent a car and that I'd still be welcome to join them for a day atop the Schöckl. How could I say no?

Our hike began at the parking lot outside the tram station. After a short debate about whether or not we should hike up and ride down (favored by the three adults), or ride up and hike down (favored by her 9 year old Adel) we gathered our things and headed out. Rebecca explained that Wandern (hiking) plays a huge roll in Austrian culture even to this day and that the whole of the country is crisscrossed by well-marked trails maintained by the Österreichischer Alpenverein (the Austrian Alpine Club). It is possible, she said, to hike for thousands of miles following mountain trails and camp each night within little backcountry huts set up at regular intervals along the way for just that purpose.

The hike up was only moderately steep and punctuated by increasingly lovely views of the valley below glimpsed through breaks in dense foliage. I can't say frequently enough how ideal the day was--slightly warm, cool breeze, clean air--and there were a number of other folks out on the trail. Each meeting would pass with a friendly "Gruss Gott:" the most common Austrian "hello," which I think means something like "God bless." The air was humming with friendly pollinators and at one point a young red deer paused in its wary wanderings and looked straight at us--posing for a few seconds between two stands of timber as though in a picture frame. I had no time to snap a photo and didn't want to spoil the magic of the moment by trying, but remembered the scene well enough to sketch it later as part of a thank you note I made for Rebecca.

We made it to the top in about an hour and 1/2 and were rewarded for our efforts by indulging in cold drinks and hot apple strudel...not the typical fare one finds at the end of a hike, but hey, as long as it's there...

The track you see below the restaurant is a portion of the Hexenexpress (witch's express): the gravity-powered alpine roller coaster that provided the primary impetus for Adel to endure all the hiking (more on that later).

Here is the killer view we had while eating freshly baked apple strudel...it just doesn't get any better than this...

The little goose bump of a "mountain" you see near the bottom middle of this picture is the Graz Schlossberg. When you're in the middle of town it seems so big, but from up here it appears almost comically insignificant.

After refreshing ourselves it was time for a roller coaster ride. Each car is individually controlled by its occupant--you have the breaks and can go as fast or as slow as you want (though if you poke around too much you might upset the wild 12-year-old behind you who is trying to sail through the whole thing without hitting the breaks once). I'm not much of an adrenaline junky and will admit to feeling a certain amount of trepidation, but Rebecca reassured me and said that if it were too scary she wouldn't be doing it either. Adel however showed no such qualms and was nearly jumping up and down waiting for her turn.

Rebecca, her husband, and Adel all went before me and I was left on the side of the tracks with butterflies in my stomach and a bunch of impatient kids behind me. I strapped on my seatbelt and nervously let go of the brakes. My car jerked a few times on the way out of the gate as I got the feel of it and figured out that it actually took more effort to remove the brake than it did to apply it...a great comfort as I approached the first big turn and felt for a moment like the contraption was about to launch me straight out over the valley below...

Rebecca's most anticipated part of the excursion was walking over to the other side of the mountain and checking in on "her cows." We ambled through fences and over some beautifully-strange boulder-strewn fields. I loved this little park bench and imagined how pleasant it would be to sit there with Rob and watch the day tick away...

We approached the opposite slope and were stunned by the view. Even Rebecca said this was the clearest she's seen things up here. I am always frustrated by the inability of photos to ever really capture the feeling and perspectives of a place--or maybe I'm just not gifted enough to capture it--but please believe me that this was one of the most arresting landscape panoramas I've ever seen. Johannes Kepler climbed the Schöckl in 1601 in order to measure the curvature of the earth, and though making such a measurement must have been a challenge with all the rolling terrain, I can't imagine reaching a better vantage. With mountains on one side and the Hungarian plain stretching east on the other the view is simply stunning...

As the four of us wandered, transfixed by the loveliness around us, the sound of distant cow bells wafted in on the breeze and we soon found the little herd chewing their cud and basking lazily in the golden light of afternoon. I could scarcely believe it...milk cows...with cute little decorated bells hanging from their necks...at the top of a mountain. It was so...Heidi.
These must be the luckiest creatures on the planet! Living the life in a virtual bovine penthouse...

Nearby stood the Schöckl Kreuz--one of the many crosses throughout Austria that mark the highest point of the local terrain...

...and a man meticulously assembled his glider in preparation for a late afternoon launch.

I walked over to the launch site--a descending walkway of wooden planks leading straight off the side of the mountain. There was a stiff chilly breeze and as I peered down the length of the launch I got a touch of vertigo and felt for a thrilling moment that I might easily slide off the face of the mountain and float off above the hills below...

As the afternoon wound down my companions and I took the tram back down to the parking area. I couldn't thank Rebecca enough for giving me what she called, "the intensive German II experience," and spent the remainder of the evening sketching her a thank you card.

July 29, 2011

Musik Ohne Grenzen

AIMS artistic director Andrea Huber introduced our third concert by taking the stage to reciting Juliet's act 2 soliloquy from Shakespeare's immortal Romeo and Juliet:

Oh Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's a Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name, which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Thus began a night of "music without borders," featuring orchestral and vocal works inspired by Shakespeare and conducted by Joseph Colaneri--director of the opera program at Mannes College and staff conductor with the Metropolitan Opera.

From his first words of introduction it was easy to guess that Colaneri was a New Yorker. Though his accent was slight, he talked with the brisk urgency and blunt sarcastic humor so characteristic of Manhattanites, and his personality and conducting style might have easily won him a position as an occasional Seinfeld character. The final piece on our program was The Montagues and Capulets from Prokofiev's suite from R & J, and if you're unfamiliar with this music, you must listen to it immediately! It's an angry gem that communicates the two family's mutual and active hatred so viscerally that I reflexively grimace and ball my hands into white-knuckled fists every time I hear it. When Colaneri conducted the violent sections of this piece he jerked around on the podium like a troll who'd like nothing more than to tear your heart from your chest and eat it, still pulsing, in front of you. His wild gyrations did nothing but encourage the rabid bass trombone player (Dan) whose part buzzsaws in counterpoint with the basses and cellos. It was next to impossible to keep from reacting to this madness while on stage--even in performance--but far from backing down and giving the low brass "the hand" (the universal conducting sign meaning SHHHHH!!!!) Colaneri just demanded that the rest of the orchestra rise to the occasion and mimic Dan's primal energy.

There are also soft and languidly tranquil sections of this piece that evoke a sense of perfect innocence and beauty and Colaneri immersed himself into these moments just as effectively. The contrast produced when this serenity is bracketed by complete and utter hatred is absorbing and unforgettable. Even though I had a total of 5 notes to play on this piece the experience of being in the midst of the orchestra during such a performance made having to sit around and wait on stage totally worth the effort.

The singers featured on this performance were incredible. My favorite piece (next to the Prokofiev of course) was the aria "Salce Salce" from Verdi's opera Othello. I don't remember the name of the girl who sang it (I stupidly forgot to pick up a program), but mark my words...she WILL be famous someday. The sensitivity with which she performed this lengthy and heart-breaking aria made me hang on her every word...even though I understood none of them. Her tone was clear, and brilliant, and warm, and though it was her first time performing the piece, she completely embodied the tragic mood of the character--I'm sure I'm not the only one who was left with a lump in their throat.

After the concert I passed on the "free" glass of champagne offered to all performers by a nearby casino and went back to the Heim for a goodnight skype chat with Rob. I can't think of many better ways to spend a birthday.

July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me


It's another cold rainy day.
We finally got some sun yesterday--it was glorious! During rehearsal breaks everyone went out to the playground to bask in the brief, but golden light.
The clouds rolled in again overnight and at about 10:30 as I lay sleepless in bed I heard the first slow patters of rain on the window. I don't think the downpour has stopped since then, and it's predicted to last through Monday at least.

So, happy birthday to me!...and Allison, Eri, and Erica.
I wouldn't say that 32 feels particularly old, but I also can't say I feel very young anymore either. True, I still have some of the same insecure fears I did when I was 12: I still sometimes have to write myself a script before I make a phone call, I'm still shy around others and usually operate under the general assumption that the social order tends to flow best when I remove myself from the mix, and I still feel prone to making the juvenile kind of mistakes that are forgivable when you're 12, but embarrassing burdens when you're 32.

Still, if I'd been given a crystal ball at the age of 12 and had been allowed a brief glimpse into my future, I think my eyes would've bugged out with exuberant surprise to see some of the things I would experience in the years to come. For instance...

***I'm spending a summer in Austria by invitation. Somebody looked at my resume and believed I would fit in well among a group of other professional musicians, and so here I am. I was also similarly invited to attend the Spoleto Festival back in 2003. Multiple invitations to perform in Europe...never thought I'd see the day.

***I've attended both Juilliard and Northwestern--the two institutions I'd fantasized about since high school, but dismissed out of hand because I didn't think I'd ever be good enough to go to "the same school where Wynton Marsalis teaches at," and didn't think I could ever afford to go to Northwestern. The latter may still prove to be true, but I'm not going to think about that just yet.

***I've worked as both a professional musician and a professional artist. My artwork--both hand-rendered and laser etched--adorns hundreds of saxophones and trumpets around the world, and I've recorded for movie soundtracks, performed in Carnegie Hall on 3 separate occasions, soloed with orchestras and bands, and shared the stage with many of my musical idols...including Wynton Marsalis.

***I've learned to operate a telescope and find amazing and beautiful objects in the night sky. This skill has provided opportunities for me to share these sights with others and has also led to my volunteer participation in star-gazing programs at Bryce Canyon National Park--through the kind invitation of a good friend of course. Being a park ranger will likely remain a "fantasy job" for me, but helping out as a volunteer is the next best thing.

***I'm in love with a wonderful man who loves me back and is far better to me than I probably deserve. I don't look at this good fortune as an accomplishment, just as something to be grateful for. My 12-year-old self...and later especially my 16, 17, 18...year old selves often thought I'd live a lonely life without romance. I didn't think I'd ever be pretty, or interesting, or even just normal enough to attract the attentions of a good man. I think those selves would look into their future and blush with anticipation!

***I am also infinitely grateful that at 32 I remain childless. I mean no offense to those with children and my best wishes and sincere admiration go to all who take on the momentous task of rearing them, but for me the thought of becoming a mother has always left me with an immense feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. My mom would always say with a hopeful air,"Oh, you'll change your mind someday," and I would grit my teeth and squirm and vehemently deny the possibility. Meanwhile somewhere in the back of my mind the sinking thought of "what if" would creep over my being like a shadow. I'd have visions of myself trapped at home gray-eyed, dreamless, and failing miserably to quiet a screaming baby. Say what you will: maybe my desire to forgo motherhood makes me selfish, but my 12-year-old self is breathing a deep sigh of relief right now...as am I.

I would hope however that my 12-year-old self might be spared seeing some of the difficulties she'd face in years ahead, as well as some of the deep failings that remain within me to this day. Though I've accomplished a lot in some areas, I can't say that I'm satisfied with the sum total of my life as it is right now.

My current relationship with my family is tense, complicated, and fraught with anxiety. Having grown up in a loving--if divided--family, I never imagined I'd be faced with this type of struggle. That I'd one day have a pronounced fear of going home never crossed my mind, and is perhaps partly why I find it so difficult to address now.

I wish I felt compelled to draw more regularly these days--and could lose myself for hours at the piano as I once did. I wish I could run 6 miles. I wish I were fluent in another language (German would certainly help at the moment!). I wish I were more at ease with who I am, and more at ease in my relationships with other people.

It is obvious I still have a lot of growing and accomplishing yet to do.

Looking at the years ahead--without the benefit of a crystal ball of course--I can honestly say I'm tenuously optimistic about what's in store. I don't have a life list or anything--no specific "100 things to do before I die," but I am encouraged by the fact that I still feel passion and hunger in my soul to see, and do, and love, and live. I think that as long as this fire doesn't extinguish I have as good a chance as any that I'll look back on my life after my next 32 years and say, "Wow...I never imagined I'd actually be able to do that!"

July 27, 2011

The Mariatrost Basilica

YAY FOR POST #200!!!

Yesterday afternoon I was let out of orchestra rehearsal early and--despite the possible threat of rain--decided to spend a little time exploring the Leechwald. This large forest park is snaked with little trails and, given the time and energy, one can wander within it for miles...or kilometers if you're counting along with the austrian trail markers. The cool air and overcast skies actually made for an ideal walking situation and I ambled along enjoying the sounds of the woods, the lovely views, and...well...a few other interesting sights...

Yes, that is indeed a pair of mating weevles. Pretty freaky looking, Eh? What can I say...there's never a dull moment if you take the time to look.
***(I actually took the above pic a few days ago in the Leechwald, but today's post provided my first decent opportunity to share such a...choice...photo.)

After about 4 kilometers the path I was following crossed the street that runs past the Mariatrost Basilica--which I'd heard of, but had never seen--and I decided to leave the rest of the trail for another day and head down the road to check out the church...and I am very glad I did!

I apologize for the dearth of specific information I'm able to provide here--almost everything I found about Mariatrost's history and significance was written auf Deutsch and would've taken me hours to plug into google translate. Still, simply walking beneath its enormous doors to view the spectacularly decorated interior was enough to leave me in awe.

I don't think there was a single square inch left unadorned--it was stunning.

To the left of the Apse was a small display room containing artifacts that had been used in the Basilica over the years, as well as various print and artistic media depicting this incredible structure through the ages. The earliest illustration I found was a painted card dating to 1722 that shows pilgrims ascending slowly up a hill to their long-awaited destination...

...and a lovely engraving of the church in a slightly tattered book printed in 1816.

For a couple of minutes I was the only person inside the Basilica, and was relieved to be able to take in the church's loveliness in simple reverent stillness. The great thing about a place like Graz is that it's just ever-so-slightly off the beaten path and therefore remains relatively free from the griping grappling madness of the tourist hoards. As a tourist myself, I guess I have to acknowledge the hypocrisy of this sentiment, but to be honest, I don't really care. I'm just glad to find a modicum peace where and when I can.

July 26, 2011

Love Locks Above the Mur

Yesterday was my last free day before the orchestra begins another week of rehearsals. I had been itching to spend a day wandering through the Leechwald (a large forest park not far from the Heim), but once again the weather was uncooperative and I decided it would be a good opportunity to visit the "friendly alien" Kunsthaus instead. I called Pauline and after lunch we walked down through the city, crossed the "floating island," (the inside of which is pictured above left) and walked up to the museum's entrance.

We took a few moments to gawk over this miniaturized version of the bizarre structure and then walked up to the front entrance to find the rotating glass door fastened shut. "Closed on Monday," the sign read (auf Deutsch of course).

My shoulders slumped and I palmed my forehead. Pauline had specifically asked earlier, "Are you sure it's open?" "Oh yes," I had answered, confident that I'd double checked the hours listed on the brochure.

***Note to self: when you "double check" business hours, don't just breeze over the times of day, make sure you read the whole listing and confirm the days of the week too!

Something similar happened to me back in 2003 when I took a day trip with some friends from the Spoleto Festival to Florence Italy. The three of us trumpet players were really looking forward to spending some time at the Uffizi, but arrived to find its front door chained closed. We had planned our trip to Florence for one day only...and it just happened to be a Monday...what I'm now beginning to realize must be the universal day of museum closures.

So anyway, back to Graz...

Pauline and I decided instead to spend our free afternoon checking out more of the Schlossberg (which of course led to the discoveries that fueled my last two posts), so we headed on back into the old town, crossing the river Mur over the bridge nearest the Kunsthaus.

It was then I noticed something a little out of the ordinary: padlocks--dozens of them--hanging from the chain-link sides of the bridge. The locks were all shapes, colors, and sizes and upon each was inscribed, or scratched, or markered, or painted some version of K + R, or Johann loves Katja, or Jan & Sun forever. I'm sorry, I just have to revert to googley-eyed-teenager mode here for just a second...it was soooo CUTE!!! I imagined pairs of lovers strolling up to the bridge at twilight--fingers laced and hearts aflutter. One of them secrets a decorated padlock out from a pocket, hitches it to the chain link, and then throws the key away with a flourish and a kiss (I suppose there's a bit of thoughtless littering involved in that scenario, so maybe they just keep the key tucked away in a little chest instead). Seeing so many of them, I wondered if anyone--some bitterly unromantic city official perhaps--would ever be heartless enough to cut the locks and have them removed, but such a thing would surely be bad karma in the very least. Instead of detracting from the beauty of the bridge, I thought the sentimental tokens gave it a touch of soul and personality--I couldn't help but smile and found myself hoping I'd be able to add my own Love Lock to the mix someday.

When I got home I googled "Love Locks" and found a number of really entertaining articles and pictures, including this one from Seoul...

And if you're still interested, here's a link to a great little Huffington Post blog that deals with some theories about the Love Lock's origin as well as the controversy they've begun to create.

July 25, 2011

Musical Space Art

On October 2nd 1991, Franz Vieböck (an engineer and former assistant professor at the University of Vienna who enjoys playing the piano, water polo, and tennis), became the first Austrian citizen to venture out beyond Earth's atmosphere and into orbit. He was sent into space within a Soyuz spacecraft launched from Gagarin's Start in Kazakhstan, and accompanied two soviet cosmonauts on the 13th expedition to the Russian space station Mir.
Herr Vieböck was one of 220 people to respond to an ad placed in Austrian newspapers three years previous. The ad called for emotionally and physically fit individuals with a university or equivalent professional degree to apply for the chance to become Austria's first ambassador to the stars. After a grueling battery of mental examinations and tests of physical prowess and stamina, the field of candidates was winnowed down to a final 5 who then began their official astronaut training at Star City--a soviet facility near Moscow--in preparation for AUSTROMIR: the first Austrian space project.

Among the 18 AUSTROMIR experiments Vieböck was asked to oversee during his 175 day sojurn above the planet, was the project ARTSAT. Conceived by multi-media artist Richard Kriesche, ARTSAT was meant to unite aspects of science, technology, and culture into one symbolic creation...which I happened to run into yesterday while hanging out on top of the Graz Schlossberg...

This huge steel disc inscribed with raised cryptic figures across its face sits rather unassumingly in the middle of a large grassy lawn. It seems to be a favorite among kids 5 and younger whom I've seen crawling around its shiny surface playing with the funny shapes and musing over their opaque and shadowy reflections. My curiosity was piqued when I noticed this plaque--hidden behind some hanging vines and heavily vandalized--on which was printed in several languages...

A cosmonaut message encoded in the Blue Danube? Huh...

When I first saw the disk I figured it was just a random collection of interesting figures without much meaning beyond the aesthetic, but now I was curious! After searching through bizarrely-translated austrian websites and then confirming some connections through a couple of very sparse Wikipedia articles, here's the gist of what I found out...

On October 6th, 1991 tv cameras watched on as artist Richard Kriesche (pictured at right) sent an image of his hand to Franz Vieböck, the newly famous Austrian astronaut who had recently boarded the Mir space station. The Blue Danube waltz was piped out as continuous background music for the crowd assembled outside the Graz broadcasting house where artist Peter Gerwin Hoffmann was digging a symbolic ditch--a "time sculpture"--representing the period of a single Mir orbit. On that day Mir's orbit was such that it would be within radio distance of Graz for a short time, and upon receiving Kriesche's symbolic "hand shake," Vieböck responded with his own message via the amateur ham radio facility AREMIR.

The code of his response was used to affect the sound of the waltz "like an imaginary conductor's hand," and those altered musical details were simultaneously "distilled by spectral analysis," recorded in a PC, and then sent on to play a specially prepared piano. A welding robot had also been built outside the studio and once the space station was out of range it took all the recorded data and welded an encrypted version of it into a large steel plate. It is this plate that now makes its home on the Schlossberg.

Interestingly, that same encrypted code was later passed on to 10 composers who had been commissioned to create short radio pieces based upon it. Their creations were broadcast on KUNSTRADIO and subsequently collected onto a CD designed by the aforementioned "ditch-digger," Peter Gerwin Hoffmann. The CD is no longer available for sale, but the pieces are accessible HERE for anyone interested in experiencing a rather unique set of soundscapes. Rod, this is right up your alley!

Man...I just can't get over all the quirky little stories I keep running into here in Graz...can't wait to see what I find next!

Here are links to the websites I referenced for this blog:

The Schlossberg Grottenbahn

I've already shown you many of the sights on top of the Schlossberg, so today I'm instead going to take you into its heart (cue Greig's In the Hall of the Mountain King). An extensive system of tunnels and caverns have been hollowed out of the mountain's depths, and though these burrows once served as air-raid sanctuaries for Grazers in WWII, today they just offer an easy lift to the top of the Schloss via the ABSOLUTE COOLEST elevator I've ever seen in my life, or--for the more imaginatively inclined traveller--a surreal train ride through a series of fairytale dioramas and animated scenes of magical and totally-tripped-out revelry.

First to the elevator. For 60 cents you can hitch a ride and save yourself the sweat and strain of walking up all the stairs outside the Schlossberg. I generally prefer taking the stairs but after seeing this baby, I'm not so sure...

When one of the elevators leaves its station with a full load of passengers, it looks more like a spaceship or a vehicle from Tron than a regular old system of weights and pulleys. I didn't actually ride it today, but am really tempted to give it a go later on!

The loading platform for the Fairyland Grottenbahn is located a little nearer the cave entrance and after changing my mind about 8 times I finally decided it would be worth the 3,50 to check it out. My friend Pauline and I were the only adults on the ride who weren't minding a child and I felt a little self conscious at first, but once the operator pulled our little engine up to the entrance of the grotto, I forgot all my embarrassment and was squirming in my seat like a 6 year old. The train snaked around the corner and bumbled on down a psycedelically lit hallway. The further we went the more chilly and dank the air became. Parents pulled hoods over their children's heads and some took advantage of the blankets draped over the back of each car. I wish I had a better grasp of German because our teenage engineer was speaking the whole time. I caught a few of the safety messages--the usual, keep you arms in the car and don't stand up--but became more interested in his announcing when the first animated dioramas began to appear inside little hollows of the tunnel walls.

Some were obvious enough to anyone familiar with the usual litany of childhood fairy tales. See if you can figure them out...

Others were simply cute and fun...

...kinda wacky (what in the world...?)

...slightly scary...

...a little demented...

...and...um...is that viagra?!

Obviously there were sneaky tidbits hiding out here and there for the adults to smile about on their own.